Remember Google Glass? If you’ve been keeping up with tech news over the past few years, you probably remember when Google Glass was first released – and subsequently pulled early last year. The unique gadget from Google sparked both interest and controversy over its time on the market, but Google Glass “Explorer Edition” never amounted to much more than an expensive beta testing program (which required $1500 to be a part of).
But not all hope is lost regarding Google Glass, as it turns out. Last week a follow-up to the wearable was spotted on the FCC’s website, which many tech websites are reporting as “Google Glass 2”, but is being developed under the name “Project Aura”. The new version of Glass features key improvements over the initial version, which will hopefully improve its chances of succeeding in the real world.
If you recall, the first edition of glass was both awe-inspiring and troublesome at the same time. While the futuristic design and use of Glass was innovative and futuristic, it was also a paranoid’s worst nightmare. Glass had the ability to record from a first-person perspective, which would be great for documenting life experiences; on the other hand, there was no exterior indicator light that signaled somebody was recording.
The new changes to Google Glass apparently address the recording issue, with the new version adding an external green indicator light whenever the device is recording. There are also a couple of notable design changes, such as an added hinge so that the earpiece can fold inward, similar to a normal pair of eyeglasses. The first generation Glass didn’t fold inward.
Another big change to come to Glass is the alleged report that it won’t actually be tailored for normal everyday use. Instead, Glass will be tailored for more professional environments.
Assuming these changes are true, it seems like a good direction to go in. The earlier version of Glass sparked stories such as the woman who was ticketed for driving using Google Glass, which was eventually dismissed. There was also the story of the man who was allegedly interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security over use of his Google Glass in a Columbus, OH movie theater due to piracy concerns (although the device was apparently not actually in use, but his prescription strength lenses were fixated to the wearable).
When you consider that the first iteration of Google Glass was, well, the first, it’s hard to expect such a new piece of technology to get everything right the first time. I think eventually a wearable device like Google Glass would have been acceptable, but obviously allowing it in a more controlled environment, like the workplace, would make it easier to implement rather than out in the wild where people may not know what it is or what it can do.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are both becoming our reality; Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, Playstation VR (Project Morpheus), HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift are all wearable devices that use VR or AR as its main feature. At the rate these gadgets are surfacing, it feels like it won’t be long before headsets will be more common than not. Because of this, I think there is still a real future for Google Glass. Google Glass 2 seems like the next natural step in the right direction.